By THOMAS ADAMSON, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — The buzz at Paris' ready-to-wear shows on Friday wasn't just about the clothes.
Bill Gaytten, former designer John Galliano's temporary replacement, was again at the helm of Christian Dior's fashion collection, directing a demure, play-it-safe show that channeled the powerhouse's bread-and-butter New Look-inspired gowns with cinched 1950s waists.
But the collection was almost overshadowed by chatter that Gaytten, who was supposed to continue for only a few seasons, may be kept on longer.
Will he become the longest-serving interim designer in fashion history?
Day four of the frantic nine days of the Paris fashion calendar was also colored by the celebrity-filled, energetic spectacle offered by Lanvin.
Israeli creative director Alber Elbaz was toasting 10 successful years at the company, with a strong and creative array of dresses that revisited several eras of the house's clothes rail all the way back to the Art Deco days of Jeanne Lanvin.
There is reason for the company to celebrate with an impressive 24 percent increase in sales last year alone. A second celebration is planned for April in Beijing.
In other shows, Sonia Rykiel presented a comfy but high-collared journey through different looks and eras of the Parisienne gamine.
On Saturday shows include Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf and Paris' enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier.
"Dreams, history and the past," Alber Elbaz said of his extravaganza show that celebrated and retraced his 10-year journey as creative director of Lanvin.
Every inch of the couture, ruffles and shimmer that revitalized the house over the last few years was on display Friday, including reinterpretations of 1960s vintage pieces from the iconic archives.
Celebrities, like singer Mika and actress Tilda Swinton sat in the front row, behind whom some 2,000 revelers applauded exquisite cocktail gowns that included patches of the Art Deco fur of Jeanne Lanvin's 1920s heyday.
Spotlighting dappled the colors of scuba-like neoprene dresses with peplums and inflated arms in canary yellow, emerald green and royal blue.
Reading like a Lanvin fashion encyclopedia, the theme switched to a leather-infused take on sportswear jackets with a dazzling array of reworked parkas, perfectos and bombers.
The next chapter revisited archive pieces such as a duchesse satin insert — replicated from the 1960s — on a black and gold brocade gown with matching knee-high boots.
Another vault piece, a black bustier dress with calico ruffles, got whoops from the crowd, perhaps still giddy from the flowing pre-show champagne.
The collection closed with a celebratory, postmodern twist: sheaths printed with Elbaz's own hand-drawn sketches of dresses over the years, including two-dimensional ruffles and slashes.
Instead of bowing, a joyful Elbaz took a microphone to the stage and, admitting he couldn't sing, attempted a rendition of "Que sera sera."
The future is not ours to see: But with this, one of the strongest shows of the season so far, it looks shiny bright.
To slightly underwhelming applause it was, again, "interim" designer Bill Gaytten who closed Dior's ready-to-wear show in a balletic display of lowered 1950s hemlines that missed the exuberance of January's couture offering.
With reports his contract would end in May, the fall-winter collection was meant to be the designer's last. But the talk of the front row was whether Dior might keep him on for another year.
Swan song or no, "Swan Lake" could have characterized the show: Balletic-high waistlines topped a new, longer-length skirt with knife-edged pleats and a more structured silhouette.
Some of the looks got it just right, like a skintight eggplant silk sweater that resembled a dancer's leotard, on an embroidered silk skirt in violet that fluttered past like tulip petals.
The sex appeal was also turned up in the odd play of sheer paneling on the house's signature 1950s gowns, in blushed nudes and inky jewel tones, that are shaping this fall's look.
That Gaytten chose Karlie Kloss — the 6-foot (1.8-meter) ballet-dancer-turned-supermodel — to close the show was a playful touch.
However, given this is ready-to-wear, the ground-bound hemlines — mid-calf or floor-length on the catwalks — would likely drown out the a normal woman's body.